the importance of keeping up (a.k.a. the tuesday folder)

Do you have something in your life that has to be done on a regular basis, and if you forget it even once, you realize it has multiplied and taken over your entire house? An example might be laundry, or dishes! It’s important to stay on top of these things because if you slip, it can be quite difficult and time consuming to catch up.

One example for me, in addition to the laundry and dishes, is The Tuesday Folder. Every Tuesday, my son comes home from school with a folder that is filled with information from the school — notices from the PTA about upcoming events, newsletters, opportunities to help the school raise money, order forms for anything from books to supplies to yearbooks to school pictures, flyers, after-school class sign-up forms, plus a big stack of my son’s schoolwork from the week.

All I need to do is look through everything, fill out any forms, sign the Tuesday folder and put it back in my son’s backpack, add the events to the calendar, file the papers to keep, recycle the rest. Lemon squeezy, right?

Unfortunately, all too often here’s how it really works. Tuesday night we get home late from swim practice, and after showering, my son is exhausted and wants to go straight to bed. Wednesday morning we realize he hasn’t done his homework so we open up his backpack and there it is…

The dreaded Tuesday folder.

Staring at me. Taunting me. Whispering “Don’t you wish you’d looked at me yesterday? Because now you’re in a hurry to get out of the house. Your mind is not clear. You have ten minutes until you need to leave, and your son needs to do his homework and eat breakfast, and you need to pack his lunch! Muahahahahahaha!!!!!”

Yes, the Tuesday folder is a bully.

So what happens is I dump the papers on the dining room table, sign the Tuesday folder, put it in my son’s backpack, and promise to look at everything later.

And I do look at it later. Much later. Sometimes months later. The problem is that every week something gets added to the pile. Some papers that I think look interesting but I don’t have time to look at them now because it’s Wednesday morning and we’re in a rush and oh my gosh why is there always so much and how is anyone supposed to keep up and it’s not fair and why do I have to do everything and…

This past weekend, I set aside some time to go through the gigantic stack of papers on my dining room table. Among them, I found two items of particular importance. Rather, they would have been important if I had taken the time to look at them when I received them.

First was an invitation for a “volunteer celebration” at my son’s school. This would be the party the school had for all the parents who volunteered a good portion of their time throughout the year. I also found in the pile a card from my son’s teacher and a $25 gift card to Barnes & Noble, which I would have received at the party had I known about it and actually attended.

Also in the pile, I found a notice of an awards ceremony the last full week of school. This would be the ceremony where my son received two awards (one for academic excellence in math and the other for academic excellence in reading). The one he asked me why I didn’t attend. The one I claimed no one told me about.

It’s summer now, so thankfully I don’t have to deal with the Tuesday folder again for a couple of months. I plan to use this time to work on my system and establish routines to ensure that laundry, dishes, and the Tuesday folder don’t have an opportunity to pants me and bury me under a pile of dirty clothes, rotten food, and order forms.

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One Response to the importance of keeping up (a.k.a. the tuesday folder)

  1. For me those problematic activities are cleaning (scrubbing the floors etc), answering formal mail (insurity, bank stuff etc), and filing documents you need to keep (work-related etc). We're about to establish a folder system for that. Thankfully Peter helps me with the housework, I'm really blessed in that regard.

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